Copyright

Przydzial v. Alkhateeb

Threat Type: 

Correspondence

Date: 

08/01/2009

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Firas Alkhateeb

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual

Publication Medium: 

Website

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Material Removed

Description: 

In August 2009, photo-sharing site Flickr removed an image from Firas Alkhateeb's photostream in response to a DMCA takedown notice.  The image was a photograph of President Barack Obama from the cover of Time Magazine modified to look like Heath Ledger's Joker from The Dark Knight.  The image gained some notoriety when someone else used it to make a poster captioned "socialism." 

At first, it was unclear who sent the DMCA takedown notice because DC Comics and Time publicly stated that they had not done so.  Some investigation by Thomas Hawk, chief executive of Flickr rival Zoomr, revealed that someone named Edward Przydzial sent the DMCA takedown notice and claims to be the originator of the Obama/Joker image.  

It is not clear whether AlKhateeb has filed a DMCA counter-notification. 

After the debate sparked by Flickr's removal of the image, the company revised its policy for handling DMCA takedowns.  According to ZDNet

"Upon receipt of a complete NOI [notice of infringement], the US
Copyright Team will replace the image with a new static image that
bears the following copy: 'This image has been removed due to a claim
of copyright infringement,'" said Heather Champ, Flickr's director of
community, in a comment. 

According to Flickr, under the change in policy the discussion under the photo is preserved and it should be easier to reinstate a photo after a counter-notification is filed.

Subject Area: 

Jurisdiction: 

Priority: 

1-High

Content Type: 

Cybernetic Cain: In the Eyes of the Internet Law, You Are Your Brother’s Keeper

CainLet’s review the two basics of modern criminal law:

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Palin v. Latif

Date: 

05/05/2009

Threat Type: 

Correspondence

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Shoe Latif

Type of Party: 

Individual
Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Disposition: 

Material Removed

Description: 

Sarah Palin, then Governor of Alaska, sent a cease and desist letter to Shoe Latif, a Houston-based DJ, who redirected traffic from her website crackho.com to Palin's official website. The cease and desist letter claimed that crackho.com had "hijacked a state of Alaska webpage." It also claimed that crackho.com used the official seal of Alaska in violation of an Alaska state law prohibiting use of the official seal without permission.  Palin also claimed that the use of an official state website without permission was a violation of copyright law. Shoe took down her redirect and Palin never filed suit.

Shoe's website now features a humorous graphic of Palin and an ordinary link to the Alaska governor's website along with anchor text reading "The real crackho, Sarah Palin!" (now obviously outdated). 

Content Type: 

Priority: 

1-High

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Metropolitan Transportation Authority v. Schoenfeld

Threat Type: 

Correspondence

Date: 

08/01/2009

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Chris Schoenfeld

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Publication Medium: 

Website

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Settled (total)

Description: 

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the Metronorth commuter rail services to New York City's northern suburbs, contacted Chris Schoenfeld demanding licensing payments for use of its schedules on his website, www.stationstops.com, and in his StationStops iPhone application, which both feature departure times of Metronorth trains. 

The letter claimed that the MTA has an intellectual property right in its schedules and demanded an immediate $5000 royalties payment on past sales of the iPhone app, followed by 10 percent of future sales as royalties above this amount.

Schoenfeld says he has sold 3,000 copies of the program at$2.99 each.

Schoenfeld responded with an offer to pay 10 percent future royalties, in return for the MTA proving him with scehedule updates for free. The agency then responded with what news reports alternately call a cease-and-desist letter and a DMCA takedown notice.

UPDATE:

9/27/09: According to the New York Times, the MTA dropped its demand for royalties and reached a non-payment agreement with Schoenfeld and with the developer of a similar app for the Long Island Rail Road.

Subject Area: 

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

Rosenberg v. Spicy Bear Media

Date: 

05/15/2009

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Spicy Bear Media LLC; Kyle J. Redinger; John Does 1-10

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia

Case Number: 

3:09-CV-37

Publication Medium: 

Blog

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Material Removed
Settled (total)

Description: 

Rosenberg, a professional photographer, sued the operator of a Charlottesville, VA community blog (now defunct) for copyright infringement, claiming it failed to remove images of his photograph that were posted (twice) to its site by unknown third parties.  The complaint also included a claims for removal or alteration of copyright management information, because the images on cvillain.com were stripped of identifying material attached to the original picture (presumably the copyright symbol, name, and year that appear when mousing over the original photo).

On July 6, 2009, the parties agreed to dismiss the case with prejudice because they had reached a settlement in the amount of $750.

Content Type: 

Priority: 

1-High

Jurisdiction: 

CMLP Notes: 

08/06/2009 - LB editing

Subject Area: 

Southeastern Conference Sacks Social Media, Then Recovers

Responding to a storm of criticism, the 12-university Southeastern Conference was forced to back away from proposed rules which would have prohibited fans from blogging, Twittering, instant messaging, or otherwise disseminating "any material or information about [its sports competitions], including, but not limited to, any account, description,

Subject Area: 

Lego® My Video: "Clearance Culture" Becomes a Parody of Itself

Much has been written on the proliferation of the so-called "clearance culture" and the threat that overly aggressive intellectual property enforcement poses

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Yes We Cannabis: Another Obama Photo Sparks Fair Use Controversy

Is it fair use to recast an iconic photograph of President Obama to send a political message?  You've got to hand it to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) for adding a humorous dimension to this now-familiar question:

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

The New Intellectual Arms Trade: Amazon and B&N as Literary God-Emperors

When we were kids, we couldn’t wait for the future to hurry up and get here. Flying cars, pills for food, conveyor belts, the works.

Subject Area: 

Sedgwick Claims Management Services v. Delsman

Date: 

04/03/2009

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Robert A. Delsman

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Northern District of California

Case Number: 

09-cv-1468

Legal Counsel: 

Pro Se (trial court); Paul Alan Levy - Public Citizen Litigation Group (appeal)

Publication Medium: 

Blog
Print
Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Description: 

Sedgwick, a company that provides insurance claims management services, sued Robert Delsman, a former employee of one of Sedgwick's clients, for copyright infringement, defamation, and other torts, after he created gripe sites, blogs, videos and print materials criticizing the company. Delsman's beef with the company started after he filed a claim for disability benefits in 2006.  According to the complaint, Delsman was unhappy with the way in which Sedgwick handled his claims, and began a campaign of harassment which allegedly included:

  • Hosting pictures of Sedgwick's CEO and COO on his website and blog, which "morph[ed] . . . into images of Adolph Hitler and Heinrich Himmler," and posting a similar video to YouTube
  • Referring to Sedgwick and its employees as "Sedgthugs"
  • Unjustly accusing Sedgwick of engaging in criminal behavior on his website and in emails
  • "Operation Going Postcard," in which Delsman sent postcards to Sedgwick offices, employees, customers and outside insurance agencies in multiple states.  These postcards allegedly contained copyrighted images of Sedgwick's CEO and COO and an image of a human skull containing Sedgwick's trademark in the eye sockets, along with "defamatory, false and libelous statements against Sedgwick.

(Compl. ¶¶ 12-13.)  Sedgwick sought damages, fees, and an injunction preventing Delsman from sending offensive emails or postcards and further defaming or libeling Sedgwick, and requiring him to remove all of Sedgwick's copyrighted material from his website and blog and to destroy all Sedgwick's copyrighted material in his possession.

Delsman, who is representing himself pro se, has filed a motion for summary judgment.  The court has yet to rule on his motion.

UPDATE:

07/17/2009- The court construed Delsman's motion for summary judgment as a motion to dismiss and granted the motion.  The court held that the copyright claim failed because Delsman's use of Sedgwick photographs was fair use.  The court dismissed the remaining claims under California's anti-SLAPP statute.

12/16/2009- Sedgwick filed its opening brief on appeal.

01/29/2010 - Delsman filed its response brief.

03/01/2010 - Sedgwick filed its reply brief.

03/21/2011 - In an unpublished, two-page opinion, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's ruling.

CMLP Notes: 

Updated with Ninth Circuit ruling, sent to us by Delsman - AAB 4/1/11

 

Priority: 

1-High

Subject Area: 

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

National Portrait Gallery v. Coetzee

Date: 

07/11/2009

Threat Type: 

Correspondence

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Derrick Coetzee

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Legal Counsel: 

Fred von Lohmann - Electronic Frontier Foundation

Publication Medium: 

Wiki

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

Counsel for the National Portrait Gallery in London sent a cease-and-desist letter to a U.S. citizen in July 2009, complaining about his posting of images of thousands of its portraits on Wikimedia Commons, a site associated with Wikipedia. The gallery claims Derrick Coetzee violated U.K. law by breaching the museum's copyright in the photographs of artworks. In its letter, the gallery demanded that Coetzee remove the images from the site and delete any other copies of the images in his possession.  The deputy director of Wikimedia Foundation stated in a blog post that the site stands by Coetzee's uploads and that Coetzee did not violate any applicable law. The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Fred von Lohmann is representing Coetzee pro bono.  von Lohmann sent a response letter on July 19, disputing the National Portrait Gallery's claims.

Subject Area: 

Priority: 

1-High

CMLP Notes: 

CMF - 7/29/09

Content Type: 

The AP of Oz: Associated Press Prohibits Reporters from Peeking Behind its False DRM Curtain

Last Friday, the Associated Press briefly became the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz. It announced, in a booming press release, an “initiative to protect news content from unauthorized use online.” To accomplish this feat, the AP will use an informational “wrapper” embedded in its product.

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Unpublished

The A.P. Ramps Up Campaign to Lock Down the News

The AP issued a press release yesterday stating that it was creating "a news registry that will tag and track all AP content online to assure compliance with terms of use."  The technical details are a bit fuzzy, but as Mike Masnick points out, it looks like the news syndicate may be trying to DRM the news.  From the press release:

Subject Area: 

New York Times v. Republican Governors Association

Date: 

06/17/2009

Threat Type: 

Correspondence

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Michael Adams; Republican Governors Association

Type of Party: 

Media Company

Type of Party: 

Large Organization

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

A lawyer for the The New York Times has sent a cease and desist letter to the Republican Governors Association that takes issue with the layout, name and typefaces of a satirical RGA website, which the Times says is "clearly intended to be nearly identical to NYTimes.com." The letter claims the site's design is an infringement of the Times' rights under the Copyright Act of 1976 and that it violates the Lanham Act by falsely suggesting that the Times sponsored or is associated with the RGA's site. 

The RGA's Corzine Times site, which targets Democratic New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, has since changed its logo to a typeface that is different from the Gothic typeface the Times uses in its trademarked logo. However, the site continues to use a layout similar to that of NYTimes.com. It is unclear whether this change complies with the Times' demand that the site "cease and desist any further use of The Times' design, format and other intellectual property in any manner whatsoever."      

Subject Area: 

Priority: 

1-High

CMLP Notes: 

Made this high as I've never seen a website font lawsuit

UPDATE 6/24/09 AVM added washington post coverage of case, looks like RGA isnt taking this very seriously

7/16/09  - CMF

Content Type: 

Universal v. Reimerdes

Date: 

01/14/2000

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Shawn Reimerdes; Eric Corley; Roman Kazan; and 2600 Enterprises, Inc.

Type of Party: 

Large Organization
Media Company

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York; United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuirt

Case Number: 

00-CV-0277 (district court); 00-9185 (appeal)

Legal Counsel: 

Martin Garbus, George E. Singleton, David Y. Atlas, Edward Hernstadt - Davis & Gilbert LLP

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Injunction Issued
Settled (partial)

Description: 

In 2000, several movie studios filed suit against Shawn Reimerdes, Roman Kazan, and Eric Corley after 2600.com published the DVD descrambling program DeCSS, which allowed users to circumvent anti-piracy protections allegedly in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Judge Kaplan of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granted the plaintiffs' request for a permanent injunction, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the decision. 

Near the outset of the lawsuit, the district court granted the plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction barring the defendants from posting DeCSS. Despite the order, Corley continued to engage in what he termed "electronic civil disobedience" by posting links on 2600.com to other sites that made DeCSS available. In the spring of 2000, Kazan and Reimerdes reached separate settlements with the plaintiffs in which they agreed to permanently refrain from posting DeCSS or linking to other sites that make DeCSS available. On April 10, 2000, 2600 Enterprises, Inc., was added as a defendant.

In district court, the defendants argued that their conduct did not violate the DMCA and that application of the DMCA to their activities violated the First Amendment.  The court rejected these contentions, reasoning that, while computer code is entitled to First Amendment protections, the DMCA restricts the non-expressive aspect of code -- the functional act of descrambling. The court held that the anti-trafficking provision of the DMCA, as applied to DeCSS code, is a content neutral regulation that furthers an important governmental interest and which does not unduly restrict expressive activities. The court also ruled that it could enjoin and impose liability for linking to websites publishing DeCSS so long as "those responsible for the link (a) know . . . that the offending material is on the linked-to site, (b) know that it is circumvention technology that may not be lawfully offered, and (c) create or maintain the link for the purpose of disseminating that technology." The court found that the defendants' conduct satified these criteria.

On May 30, 2001, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court's decision. 

CMLP Notes: 

PACER does not have the case documents.  The important ones probably can be found through searching, since this was a huge case.

Also, any number of new/discussion links are available through a quick search.

 

CaityR editing

7/10/09 - CMF 

Priority: 

1-High

Subject Area: 

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

An Inter-Newspaper Cease-and-Desist Letter: My Trip to the Buffet of Wrong

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Content Type: 

Fight at the Museum: London's National Portrait Gallery Takes Aim at U.S. Wikipedia User

The National Portrait Gallery in London has threatened to take legal action against a U.S. citizen who posted images of the gallery's paintings of rich, white, and dead British people onto Wikimedia Commons.

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Content Type: 

Bible & Gospel Trust v. Twinam

Date: 

01/25/2007

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Timothy J. Twinam; Sallie Twinam; Peebs.net

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont

Case Number: 

1:07-cv-00017

Legal Counsel: 

Rebecca E. Boucher, Ronald A. Shems - Shems Dunkiel Kassel & Saunders, PLLC (for Defendant Timothy Twinam); Pro se (Defendant Sallie Twinam)

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

Bible & Gospel Trust, associated with a religious group known as the Exclusive Brethren, sued Sallie and Timothy Twinam claiming that they were the owners and operators of the website Peebs.net, which is critical of the Exclusive Brethren.  

The complaint, which includes claims of copyright infringement, conversion, and tortious interference with a contractual relationship, arises from the alleged posting of materials from the Exclusive Brethren's now-defunct website, exclusivebrethren.net.  Bible & Gospel Trust claims that all interests in exclusivebrethren.net and its contents were transferred to it as part of a settlement agreement in an earlier case, and that the unauthorized posting of the material on Peebs.net constitutes a violation of Bible & Gospel Trust’s copyrights.  

Although Timothy Twinam denied being the owner of Peebs.net in his answer, he later admitted to owning the site during discovery, according to a Peebs.net press release.  Sallie Twinam admits to having been a “nominal owner” of the site only for the period of time between April 5, 2007 and January 25, 2008.  Both deny that the alleged copyrighted material was published on Peebs.net.  

Bible & Gospel Trust is seeking an injunction preventing the publication of its copyrighted material, an order compelling Twinam and Peebs.net to destroy all copies of the copyrighted material in their possession and to publish a retraction and an apology, and compensatory and punitive damages.

Timothy Twinam has filed a special motion to strike under Vermont's Anti-SLAPP statute (12 V.S.A. § 1041).  The court is treating this motion as a motion for summary judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, but has yet to rule on this motion. 

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Priority: 

1-High

CMLP Notes: 

This is the same organization in Bible Gospel Trust v. Wyman

Some of the docs for this are on WL at 2009 WL 1707523

06/25/09 - LB editing

Jurisdiction: 

Cafiero v. Custer

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

08/14/2008

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Doug Custer a/k/a Doug Evil

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Case Number: 

3:08-CV-00202

Legal Counsel: 

Pro se

Publication Medium: 

Blog
Forum
Social Network
Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

John Cafiero, a rock musician and manager of punk bands The Ramones and The Misfits, filed suit against Doug Custer (a/k/a Doug Evil) alleging in his complaint that Custer infringed his copyright by posting an animated video featuring The Misfits on YouTube.com and other websites.  Cafiero also brought a claim of misrepresentation under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, arguing that Custer lied on his DMCA counter-notification by claiming a copyright interest in the video.

Alongside the copyright allegations, Cafiero alleged defamation and false light arising from various Internet postings Custer allegedly made that criticized Cafiero.  Many of these arose from spoof site Osuka Papsmear, which Cafiero asserts is a Custer blog dedicated to defaming Cafiero and his band Osaka Popstar.

Early in the case, Cafiero received a default judgment against Custer after Custer did not appear or answer the complaint.  Appearing pro se, Custer successfully challenged the default judgment and filed his answer and counterclaims.  Custer's lengthy counterclaims, which discuss Cafiero's business dealings in depth, appear to bring claims of copyright infringement and defamation.  Custer's filings maintain that he himself authored most of the material appearing in the video and that Cafiero reneged on his promises regarding publication and use of the video.

On November 11, 2008, Cafiero filed a motion to dismiss Custer's counterclaims for failure to comply with rules of civil procedure, asking in the alternative for Custer to file a more definite statement.  Custer opposed the motion and filed a more definite statement.

On May 22, 2009, the parties agreed to submit the case to mediation proceedings, and the judge referred the case to mediation on June 1. The defendant consented to appointed counsel for the mediation process only.

On May 28, Cafiero moved to file an amended complaint that would add two more plaintiffs --  Jerry Caiafa (a/k/a Jerry Only), who composed music for the video; and Cyclopian Music, Inc., the owner of The Misfits trademarks. The motion also sought to add counts of copyright infringement arising from use of Caiafa's work; trademark infringement under  Section 32 of the Lanham Act; and false designation of origin and unfair competition under Section 43 of the Lanham Act. The defendant opposed the motion to amend the complaint, asserting that adding more plaintiffs would conflict with the purpose of mediation.

Content Type: 

Subject Area: 

Priority: 

1-High

CMLP Notes: 

Source: Dozier Internet Law

CMF - 6/8/2009

Jurisdiction: 

Threat Source: 

Westlaw Alert

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